It hardly seems like one of those weird TV coincidences that NBC’s new drama Trauma is debuting a mere five months after their medical mainstay ER died an overdue death. But instead of following around the employees of a hospital emergency room here we are following around a group of San Francisco based paramedics. And if the first few episodes are any indication then apparently this show has no qualms about exploiting ER’s rigid framework.

So far the episodes have been a nice blend of digging through the character’s personal lives and then watching them play superhero and save the lives of those in danger. The pilot alone included two incidents in which some sort of medical disaster befalls some poor chap/chaps and our new heroes are called in for the rescue. As it’s centerpiece the episode used a massive highway pile up that climaxes with a very large oil tanker causing a very large explosion.

The scene is sleek and utterly cinematic. It is also (if anybody cares to remember) a total rip off of Final Destination 2. Pointing out the flaws found on network TV is a thankless and never-ending task to be sure, but despite the obviousness of the flaws found here this show still seems to have potential. The cinematography alone justifies giving Trauma a passing glance and pacifists need not worry as it is not all in the service of death and destruction. In fact, the most inspiring shots are aerial views of San Francisco and their majestic use of the Golden Gate Bridge.

It is a sad fact of life that nowadays people are simply living life without attention spans. Knowing this, NBC makes an honest effort to develop some of their characters in the opening two minutes. First there’s Nancy (Anastasia Griffith), an insanely hot blonde whose vice is sleeping with coworkers while on the job. Every workplace could use one of her. On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s Cameron (Derek Luke), also eye candy, but a family obsessive who has photos of his kids taped inside his rescue van. After those brief intros the producers get down to brass tacks ("more pain, more suffering") showing a rescue mission gone terribly awry and ends with a few casualties and one major character, Rabbit (Cliff Curtis), in a coma. Then they jump ahead a year and slow down to introduce us to a few more characters such as Marissa (Aimee Garcia). She’s an Iraq War vet (every show needs one) and was nowhere near the accident when it happened.

You can never really get a sense of what a show is about just based off of its first few episodes but it wouldn’t hurt to make a few predictions. For instance, San Francisco, in mourning a year after the crash, should probably just suck it up and move on because chances are that the longer this show survives the more highly unnatural disasters it will have to endure. It also looks as though Rabbit is being positioned to be the most interesting character on the show. After surviving the crash and subsequent coma he is back with a new found air of invincibility. In a gripping scene he picks up Marissa and begins driving through the city streets like a madman, openly imitating Steve McQueen in Bullitt. It all ends when he smashes into a drunkard’s car destroying it and severing his victim’s finger. Marissa is not impressed but Rabbit just shrugs it off as more proof that he cannot be killed. By filling a void left behind by ER this show seems to have something of a leg up on the competition. Of course thus far the ratings have been pathetic but if NBC keeps it around long enough for people to discover then they will find that there is something here worth preserving.

Starring: Derek Luke, Anastasia Griffith, Cliff Curtis, Aimee Garcia

Creator: Dario Scardapane

Network: NBC

Airtime: Mondays 9pm


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